The family of the man who died after a piece of molding from the top of a Murray Hill building came crashing down onto the scaffold where he was working is demanding answers into how this kind of tragedy could have happened.
Mario Salas Vittorio was killed Thursday when a piece of the facade of 136 East 36th fell onto the sidewalk shed where he and other workers were wrapping up their day just before 4:30 p.m. Vittorio was killed in the horrific scene captured on surveillance video, and three others were rushed to the hospital with injuries.
"He was a wonderful guy. He worked really hard for family. He was strong and everything. We really do miss him," his daughter Angela Molina said at the scene. "My mom is destroyed, we just need some answers. Just my kids, (his) grandkids are all destroyed right now."
The grieving family said that the 59-year-old Vittorio worked construction for decades, and had only been at this job site for two weeks. Molina came down to the corner of East 36th Street and Lexington Avenue in hopes of finding out what caused the deadly incident.
"The only thing we want, justice for my dad. He was not supposed to die like that," Molina said through tears. "We need some answers from some one."
Vittorio will be buried in Mexico, as the Mexican consulate is working to help the family with the arrangements.
According to the Department of Buildings, the workers were restoring parts of the facade at the time of the collapse. The most recent inspection filed for the building from February 2019 showed that the facade was unsafe and in need of repair, according to the DOB. The department's investigation into the fatal incident is ongoing.
Neighbors described the sound of the plummeting facade hitting the sidewalk shed as an explosion.
A woman who lived in the Murray Hill building said work had been work ongoing on the upper floors for some time, before it was halted during the COVID pandemic shutdown. She said equipment had been on the roof and it was in the process of being taken down when the incident occurred.
The scaffold collapse came just about two blocks away from the site of multiple collapses at a vacant four-story building, where emergency personnel had responded to twice earlier on Thursday.
The FDNY was first called to a vacant building at 211 East 34th Street shortly before 11 a.m. for a reported collapse on the fourth floor. Surrounding properties were evacuated as a precaution; no injuries were immediately reported. Later, around 2:15 p.m., the FDNY confirmed a secondary collapse. The city said all lanes of East 34th Street between Second and Third avenues were closed. Next-door buildings were again evacuated out of an abundance of caution.